Democratic Town Committee passes M4A Resolution!

Good news from the DTC of Wilbraham, Mass. who unanimously passed a resolution in support of Medicare for All in Massachusetts. Thanks to our Springfield Area team for initiating and supporting this successful action. Hoping this will be a model for more DTCs across the state to pass similar resolutions. Here’s a link to the full text:

Candidate scorecard scores a change from area legislator

In response to the scorecard of candidates by the Springfield area hub of WMM4A (see Aug. 11 blog post below), Sen. Welch’s office just informed us that he has changed his long-held position against Medicare for All in Mass. He now pledges to co-sponsor the M4A bill in the new legislative session. His Chief of Staff said the Senator’s view changed because of COVID and he now supports state-based Single Payer. We’d like to hear more from Sen. Welch about how COVID changed his mind on this critical issue. We also encourage his constituents to contact him and ask what he will do NOW as an elected official to help advance Medicare for All in Mass. 

Springfield Candidates – Where do they stand on M4A?

Eleven of 24 Springfield area candidates in the upcoming elections support “An Act Establishing Medicare for All in Mass.”- legislation that would establish Single Payer healthcare in the Commonwealth. The Springfield Area hub of Western Mass. Medicare for All asked Hampden County candidates for state office in the September primaries to pledge to co-sponsor the bill.

This scorecard shows the candidate responses in contested races:

The legislation, which currently has 62 sponsors in the House and 39 in the Senate, can be read at https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/HD2974 and https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/SD2062

Denise Hurst, Sean Mullan, and Orlando Ramos – all three candidates for the open seat in the 9th Hampden Representative District – pledged to co-sponsor the legislation when it is reintroduced in the next legislative session. Current Representative José Tosado, who is stepping down, is a co-sponsor of the current bill.

Pat Duffy pledged to co-sponsor in the 5th Hampden Representative District. Current Representative Aaron Vega, who is stepping down, is a co-sponsor and member of the legislature’s Medicare for All Caucus.

Jake Oliveira pledged to co-sponsor in the 7th Hampden Representative District. Current Representative Tom Petrolati, who is stepping down, is not a co-sponsor.

Kerri O’Connor in the 3rd Hampden Rep District and Adam Gomez in the Hampden Senate District pledged to co-sponsor and are challenging incumbents who are not co-sponsors.

Incumbent Representatives Carlos Gonzalez (10th Hampden), Bud Williams (11th Hampden), and Brian Ashe (2nd Hampden) along with Senator Eric Lesser (1st Hampden and Hampshire) are co-sponsors of the legislation.

Rep. Angelo Puppolo Jr (12th Hampden), not a co-sponsor, will meet with the Springfield Area Medicare for All group in September. David Bartley (5th Hampden candidate) is “not prepared to endorse.” Chip Harrington (7th Hampden candidate) pledged “to keep an open mind about the act.”

The following incumbent legislators, none of whom co-sponsor the legislation, did not reply to the survey: Rep. Todd Smola (1st Hampden), Rep. Nicholas Boldyga (3rd Hampden), Rep. Michael Finn (6th Hampden), Rep. Joseph Wagner (8th Hampden), Sen. James Welch (Hampden), and Sen. John Velis (2nd Hampden and Hampshire). The following other candidates also did not reply: Prince Golphin Jr (11th Hampden), Dino Mercadante (3rd Hampden), Patrick Beaudry (5th Hampden), and John Cain (2nd Hampden and Hampshire Senate).

Wake-up Call for Single Payer

An Open Letter to Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Legislature

In the midst of an overwhelming pandemic, we see with crystal clarity that the health of each of us depends on the health of everyone. At the same time, we face the terrifying truth that our country lacks the basic infrastructure and preparedness to deal with this crisis. Massachusetts residents, health care providers, and public officials are scrambling to limit, test for, and treat the disease.  Our best efforts in Massachusetts, however, are impeded not only by the lack of national leadership, but also by a highly fragmented, privatized, and inadequate approach to health care financing and planning.

COVID-19 is a wake-up call for the country and the Commonwealth to move toward a Single Payer system as quickly as possible.  It is imperative that the Single Payer principles being pursued during this crisis are implemented as fully as possible and continue after the crisis abates.  

UNIVERSAL COVERAGE FREE AT THE POINT OF SERVICE:  In order to control the spread of COVID-19 infection and limit mortality, every person must be able to access testing and treatment for the disease with no gaps in coverage or cost at the point of service.  A publicly-funded Single Payer system would guarantee comprehensive coverage for every resident with no financial barriers to care.  

HEALTH CARE REGARDLESS OF EMPLOYMENT:  As the economy slows, many workers and their families will lose their employer-sponsored health insurance.  They will face difficulty paying monthly premiums and out of pocket charges along with other bills, and accumulate mounting debt.  Single Payer would eliminate medical debt and provide lifetime coverage regardless of employment.  

PLANNING AND COORDINATION:  The response to COVID-19 has been slow and dangerously inadequate in the U.S.  Single Payer would provide the infrastructure and expertise to plan effectively for health emergencies, coordinate resources and communications, and readily access broad data-sets for decision-making.

FUNDING FOR PUBLIC HEALTH AND MEDICAL CARE: Public health in the U.S. is woefully under-funded and funding for medical care is driven by competing private interests, not public need or equity.  A Single Payer system would have the incentive to balance funding priorities and the clout to negotiate prices with big Pharma and other suppliers to bring down costs and prevent price gouging.

We will be a different country after the COVID-19 pandemic.  COVID-19 is likely only the first of many public health challenges we will face as our changing climate causes unimaginable disruption in the biosphere.  When the current crisis has passed, we must move immediately toward establishing a permanent Single Payer system. While even a few weeks ago it may have seemed “pie in the sky” to many, today Single Payer is demonstrably the most practical and necessary system if we are to maintain health care stability in an uncertain future.  Until that happens at the national level, Massachusetts must lead among the states.

Western Mass. Medicare for All therefore calls upon Governor Baker, Senate President Spilka, House Speaker De Leo, and the Massachusetts Legislature to guarantee universal coverage for COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccination with no financial or other barriers to care including income, employment, citizenship status, or any other factors. To commence as soon as the current crisis abates, we further call for an immediate plan to transition to a Single Payer system in the Commonwealth based on the principles set forth in “An Act Establishing Medicare for All in Massachusetts” (S684, H1194).

Sign the petition now!